Smartwatch for kids

Yesterday, I read about a new Smartwatch for kids.  The watch, from FiLIP Technologies allows parents to:

  • Send messages to their kids
  • Determine their kids’ location
  • Call their child or get a call from them
  • Set “safe zones” around their kids (so they’ll get an alert if they wander off the playground or leave school)

green-compressedDefinitely seems well designed compared to some adult versions.  And I think kids might even wear it.  At the least, it’s a better alternative to this situation:


I have mixed feelings about it though.  Kids don’t need cell phones and it’s a great alternative if you’re in a new or crowded environment.  But I don’t think that it’s healthy for parents to have constant access to their children and vice versa.  What do you think?  Is this only for the overprotective parent or is it a necessity for safety?


The smoke detector, redesigned

Yes, what a great product improvement from Nest!  False smoke alarms happen frequently at my house and the routine is to dash around and rip them off as quickly as possible.  Which is difficult when you’re short:


It would save us so much pain to simply wave our hand to make it stop.  Nest’s detector also sends alerts and instructions to your devices:


Not to mention safer.  Because after a false alarm, you can see I’m not exactly in a rush to put them back up…

I’m also a big fan of Nest’s website design.  Clear, easy to navigate, responsive, animated, great!

Designing for Co-Creation article

Companies have become accustom to being self-absorbed and following precedent rather than innovating.  Traditionally, businesses set rules and rewarded individual achievement rather than shared intelligence.  But can co-creation mobilize the majority by encouraging collaboration for the greater good? The growth of digital technology can let business accomplish this by encouraging employees to interact, share and create with the people around us.


Subtly redesign meetings and documents: By encouraging meetings where the team is focusing on factors they would not usually consider, it allows employees to keep an open mind and have the perspective of many world views.  Employees are encouraged to challenge other employees to see things from their point of view, regardless of whether or not they agree with their decisions or opinions.  This will the company build trusting teams and broaden existing strengths.  Instead of characterizing deep thinking as a negative action of “intellectualizing,” encouraging teams to be open to “blind spots” they may not have considered previously will create an open dialogue among a diverse group of people who may have different perspectives.

Institutionalize Innovation and Collaboration Habits Using Heuristics: Company culture has a large effect on success.  Studies have shown that company culture was the greatest determinant of profitable innovation (over R&D focus, budget, etc.).  This openness to innovation and creativity is what makes companies like Apple and Google so successful.  Behavior can be adjusted by creating a heuristic (a “rule of thumb”) that instills a standard way of doing things at the organization and encourages innovation.  Encourage new employees who will have an unaffected perspective on what could be improved and use those suggestions to create new habits.  For example, tell employees to “Never stop questioning the way we do things.”

Incentivize Inner Motivation as Much as Leveraging Financial or Professional Reward: Show employees that there are personal benefits of being innovative.  Rather than giving a bonus, which can actually discourage innovation, encourage innovation as its own benefit — the engagement it creates within the company, create motivation from the excitement that comes from problem solving and the fulfillment that comes from being challenged.  Show teams that their mistakes won’t lead to ridicule and trust them, knowing that change is risky.   Try invcentivizing a team rather than the individual to encourage collaboration rather than hinder it.


Are these strategies more likely to work among younger generations, with smaller companies, among liberals, right-brained thinkers, etc. rather than already-established businesses that are most likely resistant to change?  Why change when what I’m doing is good enough?

Giving people the freedom to fail comes at a cost. How can managers/CEOs give permission to fail, encourage employees not to think about past failures or mistakes and celebrate risk when these things come at a cost to the business and to profits?

A focus on short-term rewards inhibits innovation.  But how do companies take the time to focus on long-lasting opportunities when the organization’s future depends on consistent financial success/pay-offs?

The Winston Show

You’ve heard of the show Dora the Explorer, right?  It’s a TV show that teaches Spanish and encourages kids to talk to the characters.

A company called ToyTalk, started by a former Pixar software developer named Oren Jacob, came out with a new iPad app called The Winston Show that does the same thing, but with a twist.  The character has an actual conversation with you!

The app uses the camera and microphone (through voice recognition), allowing kids to:

  • Chat with Winston


  • Answer his game show questions, and


  • Decide how his stories end.


It’s an ingenious way to create an interactive entertainment that’s fun, but also a learning experience.

I downloaded the app to try it out and Winston is hilarious!

Class notes: Sept 23

Ethnography article

Look for idiosyncrasies in ethnographic research, not just generalities that everyone could tell you (ex. teens are good at social media).  Be quantitative and look for hidden desires and needs.  Ex. 7 out of 15 people at Starbucks were using Facebook and 3 out of the 7 people were looking at a international news event.

Different from market research, where you look for the average person representing certain characteristics.

Understand users on a deeper level.  IDEO project to help TSA: “design a solution that calmed the environment to make threats stand out.”  Create an “experience blueprint” with critical thinking, interviews, how travelers interact with agents, how agents work with each other, how they’re trained, manual writing, etc.

Use strategic design — where is the organization going?  Design as part of a bigger plan.

Slides assignment: Paraphrase slides using just the conclusions came to.  Practice presentation and be more succinct.

Ugly bracelets on fit people

I had dinner the other night with my friend Emily and she was wearing her new Nike Fuel Band.  Duh, everybody’s doin it.  It’s a bracelet that motivates the wearer to stay active by tracking steps each day using an accelerometer.

She said it was fun, but that it was hard to remember to wear and that it looked pretty ugly for a wear-every-single-day accessory:


Then I saw this article on TechCrunch about an app called Moves.


It’s a FREE activity tracker that does the same thing as the fuel band, but using something with an accelerometer that you already carry around every single day — your phone!

Accelerometer demo

Accelerometer demo

What do you think is the future of activity tracking?  Sensors built directly in to your clothes?

IDEO Corporate Ethnography Article


Summary: When conducting corporate ethnographic research, taking a worldview (observing broadly from various sources and in various ways) will help us realize more innovative, new and obscure insights.  Rather than focusing on the obvious problems, patterns or desires of the customer, these methods challenge designers to look for more meaningful opportunities.  The results will be mutually beneficial to the designer, client and customer.  A few of the more interesting methods include:

1. Cultural forces: What technology trends, social attitudes or demographic patterns are influencing the lives of the consumer?  Do trends influence their lives now or did they influence their decisions in the past?  These issues might affect the way a customer feels, thinks and behaves toward a brand.

2. Synthesizing multiple sources: Expand interpretations by drawing on other sources, including people the consumer interacts with and how they act in multiple situations.  You can gain a better understanding of the subject when you understand all the nuances that impact their life, how they interact with other brands, etc.

3. Collaboration with consumers: Millennials (aka Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000) expect full participation and interaction within the marketplace.  They prefer to start a dialog with a brand and respond better companies invite consumers to participate and share their thoughts (ex. Yelp, Nike ID).  Let the customer guide the brand and give feedback.

4. Turn the lens inside: People within the company can have a better understanding of the customer if they adopt the worldview of that customer.  Rather than observing, have employees put themselves in the customers’ shoes in order to develop products that are more relevant to consumer needs.  Have a full understanding of the customer’s values, needs and behaviors to grasp consumer insights better.

5. Widen to business ecosystem: Main goal of research in the past has been to connect the producer to the customer.   Create more value by expanding to middlemen or groups with specific interest in a new approach.  Understanding the entire ecosystem, or industry, will help better align goals and uncover new opportunities.


3 Questions:

1. How much more time consuming is design based on ethnographic research and will customers see the value?

2. What about in situations where customers/users/those being affected either can’t be observed or don’t want to be observed?

3. Are there certain methods of ethnography that are better suited for specific projects or products?

Eat your veggies!

I was a picky eater as a child.  Especially in the school cafeteria, where I’d trade my regular milk for chocolate and eat nothing else.  Unless it was pizza day.


Fourth grade lunch table. We look pretty happy, so it must’ve been pizza day.

Bravo, then, to Chicago’s Greater Good Studio, who set out to redesign school lunches so kids would interact with food in a positive, healthy and fun way.

Their ethnographic research included using GoPro cameras on the kids’ heads: Skip ahead to 12m 38s

A few changes to the environment, like changing this:


…to this:


…did the trick!  Kids ate more balanced meals.  They saw what their friends were eating and felt supported when trying something new.